U.S. Army Reneges on Contracts for Foreign-Born MAVNI Recruits

U.S. Army recruiters have canceled enlistment contracts for many foreign-born military recruits recruited through the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program. Reports state that these contracts have been cancelled because of the burdensome enlistment process for these types of recruits. Recruiters are instead focusing on individuals who can enlist with less hassle in order to satisfy recruitment targets. Cancelling these contracts could leave many of these foreign-born service men and women in a perilous position, as they typically have faced lengthy waits for their background checks to clear and are now without legal immigration status.

Background: MAVNI program

The MAVNI program was implemented in 2009 to recruit nonimmigrants with certain medical or linguistic skills critical to the success of U.S. military operations. Eligible applicants must be legally in the United States, including in nonimmigrant status (except A, B, and G statuses); asylee, refugee, or temporary protected status; or as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipient. The program allows eligible applicants to bypass the lawful permanent residence (“green card”) process and become U.S. citizens after basic training or commissioning. More than 10,000 individuals have signed up, and many have already become U.S. citizens.

Cancellation of Contracts Could Expose Hundreds of Recruits to Removal

As discussed in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, New Vetting Policies Create Delays, Doubts for U.S. Military Path to Citizenship Under MAVNI Program (15.Jun.2017), the MAVNI program faced significant  backlogs due to the stringent screening methods imposed on recruits. Many of these men and women remained in the United States waiting for their background checks to be completed. For many, this lengthy process caused their previous status to expire. Now, these same recruits have had their contracts canceled and are currently in the U.S. with no legal status.


The MAVNI program has been successful in recruiting nonimmigrants with critical skills helpful for the U.S. military. In exchange for their service to this country, eligible applicants have been given an expedited path to U.S. citizenship. Unfortunately, hundreds of foreign-born individuals who have signed up to serve the United States through military service have recently had their enlistment contracts canceled and many are now facing serious immigration issues. The recent change in policy is indeed unfortunate as it violates a promise made to innocent men and women who were willing to risk their lives in service to this country.


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